Much of the uneasiness with the MRA stems from the unknown. Dentists in the Philippine archipelago number approximately 12,000. More than 50% of them are in single proprietorship practice with stand-alone clinics. Some are mall-based or what we deem as high-end. Why the disparity? Because there are different classes of people in society. And there is a need to cater to these socio-economic classes. The perception of the consumers in the country is that when the dental clinic is based inside a mall, the standard is higher in terms of facilities vis a vis professional fees charged. The so-called A and B socio-economic class patronize them more as opposed to the class C and D who subscribe to the stand-alone types. The E class (the underprivileged) tend to gravitate towards public barangay health centers and civic missions that have free dental services often offered by government mostly in partnership with different dental societies.
With the advent of the ASEAN integration, free trade among professional dentists will be open. Exchange of relevant information and the promotion of best practices on standards and qualifications are the object of this mutual arrangement. Competing with our Asean counterparts in our home turf may seem to be unnerving at the outset. But then again, this is a two-way street. We can as much as readily practice in their country as professional dentists because our standards and competence is now recognized to be at par with theirs and vice versa under their respective domestic laws.
In Article 3 of the same MRA, the recognition and eligibility of Foreign Dental Practitioners who apply for registration in the Host country and is recognized as qualified to practice dentistry in the Host country in accordance with its Domestic Regulations and subject to the following conditions:
1. In possession of a dental qualification recognized by the Professional Dental Regulatory Authority (PDRA) (in our case, the Professional Regulation Commission-jcsy.) of the Country of Origin and Host Country;
2. In possession of a valid professional registration and current practicing certificate to practice dentistry issued by the PDRA of the Country of Origin;
3. Has been in active practice as a general dental Practitioner or specialist, as the case may be, for not less than five (5) continuous years in the Country of Origin;
4. In compliance with Continuing Professional Development (CPD) at satisfactory level in accordance with the policy on CPD mandated by the PDRA of the Country of Origin;
5. Has been certified by the PDRA of the Country of Origin of not having violated any professional or ethical standards, local or international, in relation to the practice of dentistry in the Country of Origin and in other countries as far as the PDRA is aware;
6. Has declared that there is no investigation or legal proceeding pending against him/her in the Country of Origin or another country; and
7. In compliance with any other assessment or requirement as may be imposed on any such applicant for registration as deemed fit by the PDRA or other relevant authorities of the Host Country.
Once these conditions have been satisfied by the applicant, the Foreign Dental Practitioner shall be recognized as qualified to practice dentistry in the Host Country he or she is applying to.
In relation to this, the Continuing Professional Development or CPD units have now become a strict, mandatory requirement for all professionals in as much as nearly all 43 professions under the regulation of the PRC are targeted to have their own MRAs. As of the moment, the professions of Nursing, Medicine, Dentistry, Accountancy, Surveying and Architecture already have their respective Asean MRA.
The typical cynic, however, would reason that if I have no intention of practicing abroad, why should the Asean integration affect me? It would – if you think of our Asean counterparts coming over to our country to set up their own clinics and practice just right at your doorstep!
Should we consider the Asean integration a threat, then? You would if you are not capable enough. You would if you remain stagnant in your knowledge. You would if you don’t upgrade. But you shouldn’t, if you know that you have continuously complied with the regulatory laws, the CPD units, and our Dental Law and Ethics.
In hindsight, the Asean Integration is but a challenge to level up and be at par with the world. It serves as a means to “improve the efficiency, competitiveness, diversity and distribution of services among Asean member states.” A country’s greatest economic asset is its people. That is why we need to invest in ourselves. Continuing education is an obligation as much as the benefits from mutual exchange of information and expertise among Asean nations is tantamount to enhanced knowledge that will set the standard for global competitiveness. This is where the crux of the Asean Mutual Recognition Arrangement lies.
The question foremost in our minds is; are we as skilled and capable? The answer is YES.
Can we compete just as much? The answer is YES.
Are we ready for it? The answer MUST be YES.
When do we start? The answer is NOW.
Mark your calendars: December 31, 2015 – formal launch of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) signaling the start of the Asean Integration.